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Inspiring Conversations with Carrie Hauser of Lovebug Longarming

Today we’d like to introduce you to Carrie Hauser.

Hi Carrie, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
After receiving my degree in Fashion Design from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, I moved to Raleigh with my husband in 2012. I had a string of retail jobs until one day, I found a job listing for a Longarmer at a local quilt shop. I’d never quilted before, let alone knew what longarming was, but I stitched up some little quilt blocks as sewing samples and went to the interview. I was amazed to see a longarm quilting machine in action. I’d worked on a million kinds of sewing machines so I knew I could learn this one and the shop owner hired me! There was a lot of on-job training and while I definitely made mistakes, I learned from them and really grew into my own as a longarmer. Quilters would ask to see “the little girl upstairs” and bring me the quilt tops they’d spent hours sewing together, trusting me to put their quilt on the longarm frame and stitch the layers together with a beautiful quilting design. That trust means a lot to me. So when I work on someone’s quilt, I treat it like it’s my own and make sure they get back something truly stellar.

Five years after starting that job at the quilt shop, I was able to buy my own longarm quilting machine. It’s a very pricy endeavor, like buying a fairly nice car, but I knew it would be worth it if I could wake up every day and get to do something that I truly love from start to finish. That’s when I started Lovebug Longarming. I converted my master bedroom into my sewing studio (the only room that could fit a machine that comes 12 feet wide) and never looked back. It’s been over a year in business now and the opportunities that have come up have been astounding. I get to quilt for quilt designers and put my own quilt work up in local art galleries!

Now every day, I wake up, make a cup of coffee, walk to my sewing room and plan on how I get to be creative that day. Most of my customers are happy to meet me at my home studio but I also meet lots of quilters out at the local quilt shops. Places like Bernina-World of Sewing have been so supportive and welcoming and I can never say enough good things about how awesome my local quilting community has been since starting my own longarming business. I couldn’t do it without them!

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The biggest struggle was the waiting. I had to wait, what felt to me, a very long time to buy my own longarm. They’re so expensive and I had to find the space to fit the machine. Just those couple of years felt like an eternity but it helped me bide my time and plan things out accordingly. And I still worked full time (in a non-quilting job) for the first eight months of starting my business, so there were a lot of late nights at the machine and hurrying home after work to meet customers.

It was also hard, at first, to get other quilters to take me seriously. I’m not what most people think of when they hear the word “quilter.” I started longarming at the age of 25 and there were plenty of women who would ask me incredulously, “How long have you been doing this?” And even though I’d been sewing since high school and had a degree in a sewing-related field, I could see the apprehension in a lot of women’s eyes when they left their quilt with me. Thankfully, word of mouth is incredibly important in the quilting world and once quilters started to see the results they were getting back, I quickly had many quilters I would see on a monthly basis.

As you know, we’re big fans of Lovebug Longarming. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
I’m a professional Longarm Quilter. Quiltmakers sew together their quilt tops and bring them to me. I then take their quilt tops and backing fabric and roll it onto the frame of my longarm, insert batting between those two layers, and then sew everything together using my longarm sewing machine and the computer attached to it. I can sew beautiful designs into the quilt that you wouldn’t be able to do on a regular sewing machine. I can work on anything as small as a baby quilt up to a king-size quilt since I have a 12-foot wide frame.

I specialize in edge-to-edge quilting, where you have the same pattern design repeated all across the quilt, but I also do custom quilting. Custom quilting is where each part of the quilt has a different design on it. It’s more time-intensive and more expensive, but the results can be truly breathtaking. I also offer trimming and binding services, that way, a quilter can get their quilt back completely finished if they want.

I try to offer shorter turnaround times and I’m a bit more flexible if a quilter has a strict deadline they are trying to meet. I’ve won ribbons for my quilting and I’m most proud of my Best Of Show ribbon I won at the NC State Fair in 2017. I take pride in taking my time with a customer’s quilt, rolling it even onto the frame, sizing the quilting pattern in accordance to the style of the quilt, checking thread tension constantly and holding my quality to a very high standard. My goal is to give you back a quilt that looks so good; you’ll never want to give it away.

Do you have any advice for those just starting out?
My best advice is don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. I’m naturally introverted and it’s taken a lot of effort for me, but through my local quilt guilds and groups on instagram, I’ve really been able to make some amazing connections with people. Even though I’ve had to step outside of my comfort zone, it’s been well worth it and I can’t undersell just how important it is to take that step when you’re starting your own business.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Cow Quilt-Pieced by Mary Ann Smith Elephant Quilt-Pieced by Penny Hendrix and Glen Doki Brian Quinones Quilt- SJSA Remembrance Project Teal/Turquoise Quilt- Pieced by Diane Brandl

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